Art & Yoga: Mindfulness

by guest blogger Brenda McMahon

Wake up. Drive yourself to the art show – and let your pesky thoughts sit in the backseat!


Art & Yoga - Why Mindfulness Matters


I’ve been a practicing yogi for more than 17 years. I confess I do not “do” yoga every day, but I definitely “practice” yoga every day. I especially practice yoga when I have my business hat on at art shows, in my office or at gallery openings. What’s the difference between doing and practicing yoga, you ask?  It’s all about who’s driving.

In this day and age, almost everyone has tried yoga. The poses of downward dog and cat/cow now fall into casual conversation. Yoga, however, is more than the poses. It is a physical practice, designed to focus on your breath as you use it to quiet your mind by disciplining your body. The consequence of this three-tiered practice is a stronger & healthier body and ultimately a more peaceable life. But there’s more.

The traditional purpose of yoga postures was to prepare the body to sit for long hours in meditation where the most rigorous work of the runaway mind is done. As yogis, our goal is not to have dominion over the mind, rather it is to maintain an awareness that we are the seer of our thoughts; we are not our thoughts. We have the power to ignore, change and re-create those thoughts and thus, our experience.

We do this by first noticing how our thoughts serve us and where they do not serve us. In other words, are we the passenger or the driver? Once we distinguish between the two, we are free to choose one.  If we choose to drive, here’s where the real fun begins. Now we have the power to direct our journey with more clarity. A good internal GPS, if you will.

So we’re driving to the art show/gallery opening/studio event. This is the perfect time to practice yoga. We all do the same thing; we pack up our artwork and our thoughts and we drive. During those hours we think about the weather, our booth location, our newest pieces, that show last year, our bills, and on and on.  As the thoughts line up, they become bigger and more real.

They transform from idle thoughts to firm expectations. When we create expectations, standing right behind them is our nemesis, attachment. It is the attachment to the thoughts that leads to our suffering. Like a firing squad, expectation & attachment are ready to unleash themselves upon us as the show begins.  When they are not met, our friend disappointment is left standing.

If the show is going well, all is good and perhaps those expectations are met. If the show is not going well, disappointment sets in and a string of new thoughts follow. The circle begins again, only this time it can be a negative spiral. The inner dialogue begins, analyzing, explaining and complaining about it. We all know that path, sometimes we navigate it carefully, other times we hit potholes, ditches, and even landmines along the way.

Try this. Open up to the experience of the art event without a thought or expectation of what it should/will be. That means simply, to experience the art show as it unfolds. When we do this, we meet the customers without judging their shoes or their intentions. We experience the vibe of the show as it appears each moment and as it changes from 11 am to 2 pm. In doing this, we shift our thoughts and thus our experience. In essence, we create our own successful art show.

So when you pack up your artwork and your thoughts and head to the next art event, remember this: You are the driver. Your thoughts will always be with you, but keep them in the backseat. Enjoy them and play with them. Entertain their fancies, but in the end, don’t give them too much power, don’t let them drive you to the show. The seer can lead you to your event and on your journey to joy and success.  Have a great art event!


Ceramic artist Brenda McMahonGuest blogger Brenda McMahon is a ceramic artist, whose award-winning saggar fired vessels and dimensional wall art tiles have captured the hearts of collectors for over two decades. Her unique take on the saggar fire process along with her elegant burnished forms, has added to the desirability of her work. Brenda’s custom-designed wall sculptures are in scores of residential and commercial settings nationwide. She works and teaches in her St. Petersburg, Florida studio.




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  1. Patricia Keelen says

    Great article! I too have found that my expectations can be a set up for disappointment.

  2. VERY timely article – I will definitely be sharing this with my artist friends as we approach a busy show season. I have also found that expectations are almost always something I should avoid and instead should just focus on each moment as it unfolds. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. Thanks for appreciating, Lisa.
    May you have a prosperous art show season!

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